Saturday, September 24, 2011


Hahahahaha... Megan and Mandi are having too much fun. As usually... they make me giggle and giggle. Remember our giggle attacks we always have over... nothing?

This week we had a sweet beautiful baptism of Shemareum- the 10 year old daughter of a sister that is being reactivated... and the great-grand-daughter of the late and wonderful Brother Nicholas that just recently passed away. It's been so beautiful to be teaching this family- and seeing the promised blessing to Brother Nicholas through the blessing and the covenants that HE made.. radiating throughout the generations of his family. Shemareum has an incredible spirituality beyond her years! She and her sisters were so close to their great-grandfather... and his passing really woke them all up. She has asked us some of the deepest and sincerest questions that I have ever relieved from an investigator before! We mostly focused on her mom... and I've been learning SO SO SO much about the role of parents and the divine honor of parenthood through my assignment here. I've been engrossing myself in studies of words of the prophets about families, and especially about parents. I love love love the talk by Elder Ballard "Mothers and Daughters" and shared that with this family. It was so perfect.

As we've been focusing so hard on parents to strengthen families... I find myself basically repeating the words of Nephi, "I... having been born of goodly parents"- and I'm realizing more and more how ridiculously true it is. Sister Rodas also comes from a gospel-rich home... and despite our personal parenting experiences... we've been enjoying the opportunity to teach, train, and testify to these parents the importance of "courageous parenting". Studying and teaching the words of the living prophets.. and calling parents to action stirs within me the most dormant memories of hundreds of long past but precious moments when my young malleable mind and spirit was lovingly molded and enriched by the example and teaching of my own parents. I tell stories about how my mother boldly modesty, the dilligence and exactness my parents heeded the sabboth day- and the blessing my family has received....I reflect often on the perservance of mom and dad... making sure each one of their kids got up for church or got up to seminary. I use the example of Dad and Joel often... to show how a parent show love by helping their children make and KEEP covenants... and then the miracles and impact it can make. As I teach these gospel principles... I sometimes ask myself.. "how and when did I first learn that?"... and it almost always comes back to... "because I saw my parents LIVE it." I'm grateful for parents that have made and are keeping their oh so sacred covenants. I'm grateful that they weren't and aren't perfect... and never professed to be so... but always taught and testified of the Atonement... which has helped me to personally and frequently repent. I LOVE sharing the story of the 2,000 stripling warriors with these tired and frustrated single mothers... and my own soul declares with the ancient jovenes.. that I do no doubt that my own mother knew it.

We're trying SO hard to WAKE UP these families! President Eyring called us to truly study the words of Isaiah.. and little by little they are totally coming to life to me. I was reading in 3 Nephi 22:1 his prophecy of how more children would be born of "desolate than in marriage"- and it perfectly captures what is happening here. I read in Jarom 1:1,10-11 about how truly wicked the Lamanites were... and how hard the prophets and teachers dilligently worked to diligence and repentance... and I have related all too well to it all. Being in so many broken homes with so much anger, selfishness, abuse, yelling, drugs, witchcraft... makes me pine for and feeds on an ever growing determination to build my own celestial home. I am so thankful for modern revelation... that the heavens are still open... that God still speaks through His living prophet today, Thomas S. Monson... to guide us as families and to be truly protected. As we teach families about temples... it settles within me deeper and deeper the reality of what the ordinances of the temple means... to families. President Cordon told us that when he was an older child in Guatamala... he suddenly realized that his parents had been sleeping on the floor for years. When he asked his mom why... she happily explained that when they were ready to go to the temple... they sold their bed to pay for the trip to Arizona. So.. I ask these families... and then I ask myself...."What are we (I) willing to do or to give in this life to have an eternal family?"

I am enjoying my new friendship with Isaiah. Even he got frustrated and down when he was seeing little immediate changes as a result of his work and teaching. He said in Isaiah 49 " I have labored in vain.. I have spent my strength for naught and in vain... surely my work is with my God. ....
Though Israel (Belize) be not gathered... yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord... and my God shall be my strength."
We are seeing changes and miracles everyday as families start feeling the Spirit again and people start turning to God again... and start reading again. Though not all are yet gathered in... it is not ever in vain. :)

Sorry if my letters are ever so preachy or long winded... I don't know what else to talk about now. :) I love you all and love hearing about all the beautiful things happening over there! I would love to hear from my long lost best-friend... at least to know she's still alive. I'm not sure how many guilt trips it'll take... but I'll keep trying. :)
Sister Clark

What an incredible week we have all had, huh? I had been thinking a lot about Sister Paventy the last few weeks... reflecting on the life she has lived, and the way she served and handled her trials. We work with a lot of people in a lot of trials.. and when we teach on how to turn to the Lord... I have repeated thought on the example of Sister Paventy. As I was mediating this week... the Spirit washed over me, and I turned to Sister Rodas and said, "ya know, I think Sister Paventy has passed away this week." (Even Sister Rodas knows and loves her) - That confirmation caused me to reflect again... and I remembered the story told in a conference when a faithful man was passing and his family was gathered, and he looked at them all and ask, "does anyone here have some problem with Plan of Salvation?". I was blessed with the opportunity that day to share the Plan of Salvation... and felt something even more and understood and loved this perfect plan even more as the Paventy family floated in my mind and lingered on my heart and helped me teach and testify of the truth of this plan.

This week we had such sweet surprises! Many people came that... honestly surprised us! These innactive members aren't like investigators- that if they're not seeming to progress... you move on to those that will. We try so hard to work by inspiration... to understand who the Lord wants us to dedicate His time to... and sometimes we're puzzled, frustrated, but carried by hope.. when we find ourselves repeatedly returning to people that are not progressing, are not responding, and are so difficult. Yet... they were baptized, they became part of the fold, their names are recorded, and their importance to God- though beyond our comprehension- is undeniable. So... we keep going. We keep praying, serving, teaching, loving... and it's honestly a test of patience sometimes. Of course we'd love to see everyone jump back to church, start reading their scriptures and praying every day from our first visit with them... have them all work towards being worthy to take the sacrament... and have all these families flocking to the temple next month... BUT.... it's not like that. Yet. :) These are not easy 2-week baptisms.. but I am SO SO SO incredibly grateful for the blessing to have this assignment here. The focus and lessons that we do every day are so different than before... and I am so grateful for the guidance, teaching, and strength of the Spirit that helps us every day to teach things that I could never understand or teach alone. Through these special situations that we are working with... I have been my biggest reactivation and progressing member. What I have been learning of temples, covenants, the Atonement, families, priesthood, parenthood, and marriage from working with struggling couples, reactivating families, new priesthood holders, strayed leaders, future missionaries, investigators, innactive members... has all become so sacred and precious to me. The Lord has blessed me with so many beautiful and hard experiences that have these eternal principles finally seep deep into my hardened heart... and my perspective is eternally altered and refined.
I'm so excited to keep learning throughout all my life.I fall more and more in love with the scriptures every day. I found something so true and so beautiful in a conference talk the other day... when Elder Christofferson said that the scriptures help us remember things that we once knew in the premortal life. I love love love that. I have had so many moments when I feel it so clearly- like once another little scale of thousands has fallen off from my eyes, and I learn something "new"... but it just feels... SO familiar.

I love love love Belize. Sometimes my hands pine to be thrust into tortilla dough or a trough of dirty soapy water and a mountain of clothes... but my heart is almost totally here... and I know that a big part of my soul will always stay here. I love how Paul expresses his love of the people that he served... and it reminds of Elder Clark's letters lately. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8,
" So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only,
but also our own souls ..... because ye were dear unto us".

Sister Clark

Wow! I Really Love My Mission!

Oh what a life this is!!! I just realized this morning that the mission can be a lot like.. pregnancy. Not that I know what pregnancy is like.. but it's beautiful how these women go through so much pain and discomfort for so many months.. and then such agony in labor.... and then God blesses them with overuling love to help erase from their memory the excruciating aspects of pregnancy... so that they miraculously want to be pregnant again and are excited to have another baby. I feel like it's like that on the mission. We can go through so much during a day... so many painful and trying experiences... but the blesses and fortifies us.. so that when the alarm buzzes at 5:50 the next morning... we jump up and do it all over again... and with excitement and joy.. like the pain of the past experiences was removed. Like pregnancy?

The Lord put a man in our path this week. Well.. many men, women, people... but this one special man has especially retained much of my contemplation since. He struggles to walk, his body is covered with open sores from his head to his feet... he is in constant pain... and he tell me he lupus and has 4 years to live. I think to myself, "This is a job and a case that only the Atonement can address". As I attempt to receive inspiration and share it with him... he stops me and tells me to just save my breath. He informs me that he knows the bible, but has spent his whole life in cheating, drugs, and womanizing... and will not now suddenly turn to God because he's dying. He continued to share with me the falsest and saddest philosophies that one can have... especially with a death date posted. He talked about his kids, and his wife having increasing breast cancer.... but he remains insistent that he would not turn to God now. My heart broke for him... but especially his family. What a blessing such a situation could be to bring one into humility and allow the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ to work His miracles perhaps physically, and undeniably spiritually. I just prayed that this poor man wouldn't require more compelling to come to the Lord. I though of Sister Paventy, of the peace and humility and joy in that beautiful family... of the death of my own grandfathers....- that is how death should be. This quick conversation has really penetrated me and blessed me with the opportunity and guided meditation on what I am doing and will do with my own short mortal time.. and my personal humility and application of the Atonement in my own life. I am renewed with a desire to choose to be humble... despite how unnatural humility is to me... I'm realizing more and more how much I lack and need it in myself.

During my whole mission... but especially in this assignment the last 2 changes... obedience has been a huge hot topic..and even obsession to me and with the needs of the people here. It's just that... I really don't think the Lord is lying when he clearly repeats over and over and over and over and over again in the scriptures that if we obey him... he will bless us. I'm terrible at math.. but I'm really starting to figure out that equation. I'm so grateful for parents that usually so patient in teaching me this divine, celestial, and eternal principle... but I know that I still have so much more to change and become to really understand what is it to be perfectly obedient. YET, I have seen in myself, and especially in the lives of these families... and when they really do experiment with their little seeds of faith and test the Lord and obey his commandments... He has ALWAYS held true to His word. He truly does bless us for obedience. SO... we are always testifying and teaching the commandments and the principle of obedience to these families... and we try to do it so clearly, boldly, and strongly, but still allowing them to CHOOSE to obey God. The commandment in D&C 66:11 when it says to "push people to Zion"... I see myself doing just what mom did to us... literally- sunday mornings going into these homes, singing hymns at the top of my lungs, turning on the lights, even throwing off the sheets...haha... just like mom. Yet... from what I've learned from myself, experiences in Israel, and here.... the true reason for obedience shouldn't to get Sister Clark to stop singing... or even to get the anticipated blessings... but for love. Love of God. "If ye love me... keep my commandments". Simple as that.

Sometimes we feel like we're right in the heart of Sodom and Gomorrah in the nights... but in the daylight here. They had a big parade.. and we got sprayed with beer and smelt like it the rest of the day. I was really inspired this week by the example of the Lamanites when they were converted in Helaman 6... and they HUNTED the robbers and sought out and taught the most wicked parts of them. The only difference here is... we don't have to hunt them.

George has continued to progress.. and the healing, purifying, and miraculously power of the Atonement is SO tangible in his life right now. He is engrossing himself in the scriptures...and he is totally changing. I will send a picture next week of what we saw when we surprised him at this house. Without expecting us.. he was out reading the Book of Mormon. I snuck up and got a beautiful picture. It totally captures the reason I'm here and loving it. I love this man. I love what the Lord is doing for him. I love that I get to see it.

Welp... we're happy happy happy here. I love Sister Rodas. I hope marriage is truly like his- because every day I learn something more from her... I see something new in her... and she becomes more and more beautiful in my eyes. I am so blessed. Every time I blink, I see another blessing. It's totally ridiculous... but I'll take it. :)

Have a wonderful week! I love you all!
Sister Clark

P.S. Banana, wha' happened? Your turn!
Hailey- you know. Now! and... CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!